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OTRC: National Enquirer prints Whitney Houston casket photo, publisher defends decision

The National Enquirer recently published a front page photo of Whitney Houston lying in a casket and its publisher stands by the decision.

The publication dubs the picture "the last photo" of Houston, who died on February 11. The image features the late songstress lying in a gold casket wearing a purple dress, expensive jewelry and perfected hair and makeup (See the photo on Fox News' website).

"I thought it was beautiful," National Enquirer publisher Beth Wright told FoxNews.com.

While Wright remains positive about the photo, not everyone is in agreement.

"We're not the biggest fans of this kind of exploitation," said a post on the website of popular celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. "In fact, we find it rather tasteless and crude."

Morning programs such as CBS' "The Talk" and ABC's "The View" discussed the photo. The latter show's co-hosts Sherri Shepherd called the decision to publish it "shameful" (Watch video).

The National Enquirer has not revealed who took the picture of Houston in her casket and whether or not or how much it cost to obtain it."The View" co-host Barbara Walters said the tabloid reportedly paid Elvis Presley's cousin $18,000 for a photo of the King of Rock n' Roll in his casket in 1977.

"They sold 6.5 million copies of that issue and it put the Enquirer on the map," she said.

The weekly paper also published what is believed to be the final picture of Beatles legend John Lennon after his death in 1980.

Houston was pronounced dead at age 48 at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California on February 11, a day before the 2012 Grammy Awards.

A memorial service was held for the singer on February 18 and included guests like Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder. Speakers included Kevin Costner, Tyler Perry, music mogul Clive Davis and who helped launch her career.

Costner gave an emotional speech that touched on their shared childhood experience growing up in Baptist churches, casting her in her iconic first role and her unwarranted insecurities.

The funeral was closed to fans who gathered near the home on Sunday hoping to pay their respects to the late singer. Some ran alongside the hearse as it began the journey to Houston's gravesite, according to the wire service. Several yelled out "We love you, Whitney" as the hearse, which had a black and white headshot of the star in a window, slowly drove away.

Investigators have not revealed what killed Houston, who was found unconscious and underwater in a bathtub by a member of her staff. Her autopsy has been completed but the results will not be released until a toxicology report is produced, which could take up to eight weeks.

The legendary singer is survived by daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18. She was with Houston during what was to be her final performance on February 9.

Do you think it was appropriate for the tabloid to publish the photo? Vote in our poll below.

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